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Mindfulness training for school administrators: effects on well-being and leadership

Julia Mahfouz (Department of Leadership and Counseling, University of Idaho, Moscow, Idaho, USA)

Journal of Educational Administration

ISSN: 0957-8234

Article publication date: 3 July 2018

Issue publication date: 17 October 2018




Based on a need to utilize strategies and develop social-emotional competency skills of school administrators, the purpose of this paper is to explore the influence of Cultivating Awareness and Resilience in Education (CARE), a mindfulness-based professional development program, on the leadership and well-being of 13 school administrators.


The empirical data consist of in-depth interviews with 13 administrators before and after the implementation of CARE program, observation notes from shadowing their activities during school time and attending the CARE program as a participant observer. Employing the pro-social classroom model (Jennings and Greenberg, 2009) as a theoretical foundation, the paper is based on an ongoing, iterative data analysis process, following the coding and interpretive techniques of grounded theory.


The positive outcomes that emerged from the data relate to improved leadership skills, such as increased self-reflection, better relationships and attendance to self-care. These skills are tied to increased self-awareness, self-management and self-compassion. Participants also reported an improved ability to recognize their emotional reactions, which enabled them to better understand their leadership roles in shaping their school climates.

Research limitations/implications

The findings reveal significant insights about the implementation of social-emotional, mindfulness-based professional development with school administrators and potential outcomes. Implications for professional development that fosters school administrators’ social-emotional competencies are discussed.


As a study of one of the first implementations of mindfulness-based professional development programs among school principals, this research illuminates the specific benefits of such programs for school leaders and how mindfulness could be integral in their lives and education. Specifically, this study is one of the first to reveal how the CARE professional development program influences principals’ well-being and leadership.



Mahfouz, J. (2018), "Mindfulness training for school administrators: effects on well-being and leadership", Journal of Educational Administration, Vol. 56 No. 6, pp. 602-619.



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